KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Malaysia's state oil firm Petroliam Nasional Berhad inked a deal to study two oilfields in Iran with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
Petronas, as the firm is known, will conduct studies at South Azadegan and Cheshmeh Khosh that are expected to conclude in the second quarter of 2017, the Malaysian firm said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Iran, OPEC's third largest oil producer, plans to launch next year a new-style contract for helping develop its oil and gas fields, part of an effort to sweeten the terms it offers and attract more foreign investment.
It has in recent weeks signed agreements with other oil producers such as Russia's Gazprom Neft and Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Ltd for oilfield studies.
Petronas used to import 50,000-60,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude before it stopped buying due to Western sanctions.
Malaysia's cabinet on Wednesday also gave the go-ahead to pursue a free trade agreement with Iran, state news agency Bernama reported.
The potential for trade with Iran was enormous in areas such as oil and gas, and palm oil, trade minister Mustapa Mohamed was quoted as saying.
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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